Next in our series of Q & A’s with artists and participants of The Cumnock Tryst 2019, we spoke to Kate Picken of The Farmers Choir to find out about how this wonderful ensemble of singers formed and what they have planned for their performance at The Festival Club on the Saturday evening of this year’s Tryst.
Can you tell us a little about the background of the Farmer’s Choir – when it was started, why and the kind of work you do?
I am a music teacher and Youth Music Coordinator working for Dumfries & Galloway Council, married to a farmer and live near Kirkcudbright.
In 2013, the Scottish Young Famers Association were celebrating their 75th Anniversary and planned to have a concert to include members from young farmers clubs, past and present.
This concert took place in The Hydro Arena, Glasgow on 25th November 2013. I had been approached in May of that year if I could start and lead a ‘Farmers Wives Choir’.
I was delighted to be involved and suggested that we could have a Farmers Choir also. We started rehearsing 12 weeks ahead of the event, once a week, in Lanark on Sunday afternoons.
Members travelled from far and wide: Perthshire, Dumfries & Galloway, North Berwick, Ayrshire, Campbeltown and Lanarkshire.
The concert was went really well and the input from the choirs with 110 ladies and 45 men was deemed to be a huge success.
There were no plans to continue as the sole aim was to be ready in time to perform at the SAYFC Anniversary Concert. We have been delighted to have been asked to perform at many events since 2013 where our events raise money for charity.
Why do you think the Farmer’s Choir has been such a big success?
I think for the choir, it’s success is due to a combination of things - making new friends, the ‘feel good factor’ of singing together, working hard whilst having fun in learning songs and of course the joy in performing. There are still over 100 members and it has been said that they feel like one big family. We also have a fantastically talented accompanying pianist, Robert Menzies, who has been with us since the beginning and has been a key factor in our success.
What does it mean to the choir to be performing at this year’s Cumnock Tryst?
We all feel that this is a huge honour to be asked by Sir James MacMillan to perform at this prestigious event and are delighted to be included in this year’s fabulous programme.
What will audiences experience at the choir’s performance?
The choirs will perform a variety of well-known popular songs which will include songs from musical theatre and films. There are 3 groups within the full choir so there will be an opportunity to hear each of them along with the full choir.